Why some pastors (and churches) do not want deacons

Every pastor and every church wants men (and women too) with a heart to serve.

What they do not want is a little cluster of ingrown power-brokers who protect their turf, see deacon status as a recognition of their importance, and elevate their decisions as law for pastor and congregation.

In the monthly deacons meeting, one of the newer men said, “Last week in  the church conference, someone made a motion from the floor and it was adopted. That’s not right. These matters must come to the deacons first, then to the church.”

One of the veterans said, “My brother, this is a Baptist church. This congregation can vote to do anything it pleases and it does not have to ask our approval.”

Thank you, Deacon Atwell Andrews. As the pastor of that bunch, I loved that.

In a deacons meeting, a shriveled little nay-sayer looked across the way at his pastor and said, “The Bible says the deacons are to handle the business of the church.”

I said, “My friend, I cannot wait for you to show me that in the Scripture.”

He said, “It’s right there in Acts 6. ‘Look you out from among you seven men whom we may put in charge of this business.'”

It was all I could do not to laugh. (You can tell this man and I had a history.)

I said, “The word translated ‘business’ there means a ‘lack,’ or a ‘need.’  The disciples told the church to select 7 men to fill a need that was going lacking.”

I wish I could say this convinced him. All it did was anger him that his pastor had disagreed with him.

Pastors sometimes say to me, “My church has no deacons. And I love it that way!”

I know what they mean.  They do not mean they have no servant-minded members. They do not mean no one has a heart for working and helping.

What they mean is there is no organization of a small group of men who see themselves as something special, draw the lines defining their elite status tighter and tighter (by adding to scriptural qualifications on who can be a deacon), and insist they be granted great respect and authority.

No pastor needs that.

What pastors need is helpers.

What pastors need is men–and women too–who are willing to do “whatever it takes” to make the church stronger by ministering to hurting people.

What pastors need is friends, encouragers, workers, partners, and brethren in Christ.

What pastors do not need is obstacles, barriers, and hurdles to overcome in doing their work.

What pastors do not need is a little group who set themselves up as a board of directors for the church and expect their word to carry great weight.

What churches need is workers; what they do not need is dead weight.

What churches need is godly and mature encouragers; what they do not need is an elite bunch who make recommendations to the church which they expect to be voted unanimously, automatically, enthusiastically.  And, of course, obediently.

What churches need is wise men and women of God who want only to bless others; what they do not need is a debate squad that fights over every issue.  I bear in my body the marks of such fights.  Pastors receive the collateral damage sometimes.

What churches need is sweet-spirited laymen to bless the church and encourage the ministers; what they do not need is a group who would boss the pastor and staff around but will not stand up to one of their own body who bullies them.  Ask any pastor.

When, over my objection, our deacons once went to the congregation with a poorly-thought out recommendation and had their collective head handed to them, a deacon officer murmured to me, “This church does not support its deacons.” I said, “Neither do the deacons support their pastor. I told you not to do that, and you did it anyway.” If that got through to him, I couldn’t tell.

In one church, a banker is the congregational bully.  One night recently the man and his adult son called on the pastor. The son manhandled the preacher–grabbing him by the collar, pushing him around–while the older man threatened him. “I’ve run off the last 6 preachers in a row,” the man said, “and you’ll be number 7.”  When the pastor told some of the deacons what had happened, they were alarmed–well, that’s something!–and promised the preacher they would never leave him alone in the church at any time. “But,” the pastor told me, “they are afraid of the man and will not stand up to him.”

Now, it’s possible to have bullies in churches without their being deacons. These cancers have a way of ingrafting themselves into the life of the congregation without being elected to anything. However, in my experience if a church has a bully, nine times out of ten, he’s a deacon.

I say that to our shame.

Lest anyone feel a need to remind me, I am all too aware that some pastors are bullies, some preachers are the problem in the church, and every church needs strong members who will face up to him for the health of the church.

Nothing about this is simple or cut-and-dried.

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

Where a church has a deacon board that has become ingrown, intent on its power and authority, I suggest to godly laymen in the congregation that to be rejected by such a bunch is a badge of honor. You can do everything you would do as a deacon–serve the congregation, help the pastors–without being elected and ordained and having to attend all those meetings.

No one has to ordain a servant.

Just go do it.

19 thoughts on “Why some pastors (and churches) do not want deacons

  1. Thank you for this well written article. Yes, every church needs servants. Biblically deacons were there to serve so that the pastors could spend time in the Word and preaching the Word. My Dad was a pastor and I have worked with pastor’s and their wives and have seen how many are bullied, or certain people are attempting to bully them, and/or are sowing dissension among the believers while stabbing the pastor in the back.

    • This is so true about deacons & wives. We have had some of the best deacons in the world ; also some of the worst. What a help they could have been to a pastor ( who is already under tremendous burdens) had they supported him instead of trying to destroy him as he sought to preach Biblically sound doctrine messages straight from the Bible and bring glory to God.

  2. So true about Deacons. It’s been said that a lot of churches are run by strong willed deacons wives:)

    According to scripture, churches are to be run by elders, of which the pastor is one. Pastor is an office – not a title. You don’t have elder Bob (unless it’s a Mormon church) so you shouldn’t have pastor Bill either. God knew how power hungry mankind is, that’s why the one pastor system is not scriptural either.

    Deacons are to serve the congregation and are not there for spiritual guidance or any control of the congregation.

  3. I suppose any church member that has achieved leadership in one degree or another that isn’t the pastor is at risk for a Napoleon complex, deacon or not. The key is that, if a deacon is ordained (“they laid hands on them”) and he cooperates with and is docile to the Holy Spirit, he is more able to work with the pastor and the church as opposed to work for himself.

    • Well said Chardin I agree with your statement, it is definitely key for your Deacons to be spirit lead by the Holy Ghost, for its about evangelizing the Good News for Christ Jesus and not be involved in the office of the Deacon for your own selfish needs.

  4. Get this right, lest you be deceived by a pastor that Satan has got a hold of, and pride is now working in him. This is a truth should you follow the Lord’s will and not yours you , will test, choose spirit led, loving compassionate men to serve the Lord’s people. It says the Lord laid the foundations of the earth through wisdom. Well the foundation of the Church is to be laid in the same manner. Christ is that Chief Corner Stone , Get this straight you who pretend to pastor God’s people,
    And eliminate, set aside, pay no mind, are doing the work of the devil and your works are after the working of Satan , who also deceived a third of God ‘s servant angels, now you in your pride, usurp the word, the throne of God, and say to yourself and spew your lies, to those whom have twitching ears, like,them foolish angels, or in the church’s case foolish virgins.

    God is a God of Order, Friend woe to any of you who think you can get away with it is fool. Workers of Inquity.

    Shame on your in your disobedience to Christ, your nothing but orators, of foolishness, for wisdom has escaped you..

    Evangelist of Gospel

    Here is a Gospel you have forgotten Jesus is the Lord, over the Church not you…

  5. I feel after reading your article that you would not be a pastor I would want to have ….when you termed the guy “a shriveled little naysayer” …that said volumes of who you really are inside.Also when you made fun of his understanding of the bible verse…..shame on you. You should not be in a place of teaching when you have a condescending attitude and judgemental type personality.

      • Ten minutes later. I read the article, found the offending phrase and laughed. “Hey, I was being kind!” is the main thought that registered in my mind. As the article says, the fellow and I had a history. But thank you for directing me back to the article. I tweaked it, made some sentences better and added a few comments in places that strengthen it. Thank you.

  6. What I might recommend other than an angry article, is that we pray that God would raise up Godly men and women who are called to be servants in our churches. We might also pray for the deacons we currently have, that God might work in their lives and in their hearts to the kind of servants God would have in our churches. I also pray for you, Pastor, that God would work in the lives of those under your care. Fervent prayer will accomplish much more than venting about church.

  7. I am an ordained deacon deacons are to serve amd this senario that was played out happens to many times some pastors has been using spiritual manipulation to override sound doctrine we must have a balance we are gods children and the church is guided by the holy spririt as a whole not by deacons nor pastors one body many different capabilities protect gods word and his people win souls for christ

    • The pastor should be at all meetings of the deacons, and if a deacon cannot support the pastor, he needs to resign. The exception to this is if the pastor is doing something unbiblical, immoral, illegal, or truly stupid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *